A neighborhood in Johannesburg made Forbes magazine 2019 Worlds Coolest Neighborhood list.
Johannesburg’s entertainment and leisure options are vast and varied so ensure your energy levels are high.
Did you know about Johannesburg.
There are approx. 6 million trees in Johannesburg – so it’s no wonder the city is referred to as an urban forest.
‘E’Goli’, as it is called by the locals – the City of Gold. Johannesburg is the pulsating heart of South Africa’s industrial and commercial life where, more than a mile below the bustling city traffic, miners still dig for the world’s most precious metal.
Ever since a fateful day in 1886 when George Harrison, a humble prospector, stumbled upon an outcrop of gold-bearing rock, the region’s economy and life have been driven by the rhythm of the mining industry.
The effects are inescapable. Walk down the avenues of downtown Johannesburg and you find streets, building and museums that evoke vivid memories of the days of ‘gold fever’ and the ‘Randlords’.
Harrison’s discovery sparked off a gold rush never experienced before. Prospectors and fortune-seekers descended on the area in search of instant wealth. Makeshift shelters and tents were pitched all over the once tranquil veld.
A massive, sprawling, rough and raucous shantytown sprang up overnight. Within three years Johannesburg was the largest town in South Africa. A rudimentary stock exchange was established.
Hotels and canteens, brothels and music halls were erected everywhere to satisfy the needs of the boisterous community. Soon, however, mining began to get more costly as they had to dig deeper.
The major mining corporations moved in to take control of the industry and swallow up many of the small individual claims.
The Randlords emerged on the scene, and soon dominated it.
Men like Cecil John Rhodes, Barney Barnato, JB Robinson, Alfred Beit and Julius Wehrner quickly accumulated fortunes and imposed some order on the unruly mining town.
Less than five minutes drive from the bustling downtown lie the quiet, elegant suburbs of Houghton and Parktown where they built their opulent mansions.
The city is not known for its natural beauty but there is certainly enough here to interest the visitor for a couple of days from its botanical gardens and lakes, its museums, theaters and art galleries and the numerous excursions to Soweto, Lesedi, Pretoria or the Cradle of Humanity at Sterkfontein.
Johannesburg is also known for its world-class design in gold and diamond jewelry, ethnic fashion, and arts and crafts.
This 2010 FIFA World Cup host city has a range of restaurants – from pub ‘n grub bars to pizza takeouts, African-inspired eateries to delightful delis serving everything from a great cup of coffee to healthy meals.
There are restaurants for virtually every type of cuisine, cocktail bars and cigar bars, and fine dining. You’ve simply got to hang out at one of the many eateries in Soweto (along the famous Vilakazi Street), or soak up the sun in the Soho-type villages of Norwood, Parkhurst and Greenside.
Johannesburg is known for its incredible nightlife. From the funky clubs and pubs of Soweto to the laid-back jazzy groove of Newtown and the stylish venues of the Northern suburbs, Jozi (as locals refer to the city) caters for all tastes.
What you’ll love about the place is the multi-cultural cosmopolitan vibe and an attitude that says ‘let’s party’. If you’re looking for a comedy club, a jazz lounge or a venue that plays live music – from rock to pop to kwaito to house – it’s here.
Must-do activities include the Apartheid Museum and Constitution Hill to find out more about South Africa’s turbulent past; sundowners at The Westcliff hotel overlooking the green belt of Johannesburg while listening to the lions roar from the nearby Johannesburg Zoo; shopping up a storm at any of the many designer malls such as Sandton City, Nelson Mandela Square (with its huge Nelson Mandela statue), Rosebank Mall (with it’s wonderful African market) and Soweto’s Maponya Mall; wins at Montecasino, Gold Reef City or Emperor’s Palace and as a fitting end to all the fun, a visit to the many day spas.
Security in Johannesburg
The downtown city center is not for casual sight-seeing. If you do want to visit central Johannesburg, we recommend that you take an organised tour or a private guide.
This is also the case with Soweto, which is badly signposted and confusing to the casual visitor.
How to get here
All roads lead to Johannesburg, so the city is easily accessible by air, car or bus. International and domestic flights land and depart from O.R. Tambo International Airport.
Tours to do
Tours to do while in Johannesburg include tours of Soweto, Gold Reef City, Constitution Hill, the Apartheid Museum,art/craft markets, art galleries,Muslims, Gold mine visit, visit Alexandra township, Pretoria is not so far away,and it has some very good restaurants.
The Cradle of Humankind is about an hour’s drive away. For adventure and more fun, go to nearby Magaliesberg Mountains or Sun City.